The Grid

Voice or Niche?

Hey y’all,

I’m writing this from the sky as I take my first international trip in 16 months. I’ll be landing in Mexico City shortly (funny that it’s international considering the flight is only 2 hours from Houston) to meet up with some On Deck teammates, eat plenty of interesting food, and explore a city rich in culture and tradition.

Welcome to the 22 new subscribers who joined over the past week. The Grid is now home to 407 readers.

Thanks for coming along to my very own “digital frontier to reshape the human condition.” If you enjoy this newsletter, share it.

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Write for your voice, not a niche.

These are words I believe but I also realize that it’s an over simplification of the topic. I want to dive into what I mean by this today.

Rewind to when I first started writing my newsletters. Yes I use the plural because I had Three Things Thursday but I also had the email list from my 21 days to become the speaker of your dreams series.

I wrote for a niche. Mainly speaking. It attracted people who just wanted help when it came to speaking. There’s nothing wrong with that but I’m going to tell you something.

I hated it.

Every day when I wrote 800-1200 words on speaking, it felt like work. It reminded me of writing legal articles when I was still focused on being a lawyer. That sense of being chained to a pole and the bindings rubbing me raw took hold. I didn’t want to be just a speaking guy just like I didn’t want to be just a lawyer.

Part of my journey these past few years has been embracing the idea that there are many sides to me that form the full version of myself. Yes it includes the lawyer. Yes it includes the speaking.

But it includes so much more.

Storytelling, Travel, Adventure, Sales, Surfing, Lifting, Food, Art, Music, Creative Writing, Founders, Fundraising, Strategy, Game Theory, Psychology, and you get the idea.

So why would I only write in a niche?

Why would I only fulfill a very small part of who I am?

By writing in this niche, I was destroying my voice because I wasn’t letting it sing. It was as though I was speaking with a monotone delivery. No range. No cadence. No beauty.

Except none of this means that a person should just write all over the place. If you want to capture an audience for what you write, they need to have an idea of what you write about or at least how you write.

I tend to write using stories that highlight lessons and the insight into a topic or situation from them.

It could be how a meal in Lisbon inspires me to speak more beautifully or it could be about how Anthony Bourdain continues to be a hero of mine. If you look at many of my articles you will see common threads that weave through them. In fact, I’m currently in the process of categorizing all of my writing to make it more accessible. This is an exercise identifying those niches I write in that are all influenced by my voice and how I approach them.

Many of the topics fall into speaking/storytelling/sales, the creator economy, future of online education, creativity as a whole, and even mindset pieces when it comes to ambition and drive. I still believe those are niches but it also allows my voice to sing. Finding my voice first breathes life into the niches I write on.

As I think through this idea my belief is that people are better served finding the voice first that will guide them to the niche. I’ve seen too many people fall off the horse when it comes to writing because they niche down first and have nowhere else to go. They, like me, hate it.

People quit what they hate. It’s why people stop going to the gym, meditating, or eating healthy. They hate it, so they stop. If you hate writing because it’s only a niche, ask yourself if you have a voice yet.

It was interesting too because during that 21 day email series I also started writing 30 essays each day of January. The email series felt informative, the essays felt emotional.

And it wasn’t just me who felt like that because during that journey I received feedback that echoed this exact feeling. The essays led to job offers that I would have never expected. It led to connections with people. It felt like magic.

Why?

Because I wrote with my voice. The words sang.

All in the niches I cared about.

Practically this means it takes time to develop the writing voice. See what resonates with people and start putting ideas out there. Whether it’s fully on your own or part of some writing program like Write of Passage, Ship 30 for 30, or On Deck Writers Fellowship you can test and refine. Maybe it takes 6 months, a year, or more but at least you stick with it.

This is the long game approach because writing only in a niche leads to quicker audience growth. One of my favorite examples of niche writing comes from Ari Lewis who has a space newsletter. Anytime SpaceX comes up on twitter, he links the newsletter. People sign up. Which makes total sense because the value proposition is clear to people who care about space.

It’s a smart play by Ari.

But I would be miserable. And while the short term gains from a niche might be nice, I want to continue this journey for years to come which means I need to enjoy it. So I play the long game. It took me almost a year to figure out how I wanted to write in this newsletter.

Here’s the thing.

Since changing it to The Grid, I’ve seen much faster subscriber growth, retention, and even more replies back to what I write.

Choose wisely in your writing journey.

You know where I stand. Write for your voice, your niche will find you.

Let me know your thoughts. Agree or disagree? Nicolas Cole (who is an incredible writer and thinker that more people should follow and read) has been pushing me on this idea so I want to explore it far more deeply and all opinions are helpful. I’ll be writing a more in depth article on this in the coming weeks.


Get ready for pictures of Mexico City in the coming weeks. One of the things I love is travel photography. I mean that definitely makes me super basic but I’ve never run away from that either.

I’ll mainly be using my iPhone but may also play around with my Sony Alpha a bit on this trip depending on time.


As many of you know I run On Deck Performative Speaking. We just finished up week 3 where we went deep into writing prepared talks and also the frameworks I use when it comes to Extemporaneous and Impromptu Speaking so that all of the Fellows will have a better handle on those “unprepared” talks.

What some of y’all may not know is that I also do consulting and coaching work with founders (and other speakers and executives) on a 1 on 1 basis that often times includes fundraising. That includes writing pitches, coaching the delivery, and advising founders on the right strategic approach.

It’s connected me with incredible people like Jason Yeh who is an executive fundraising coach and I’m excited about what he’s created to help founders.

He is hosting a free 3-part webinar next week called Essential Fundraising Prep. He'll cover the keys to avoiding common fundraise killers, increasing investor leads, and saving time through elite preparation. Register here!

Also, I am going to be a guest lecturer in the Live Pitch module of his upcoming bootcamp Fundraise with Confidence. If you want to apply, use the code ROBBIE for 20% off.

So the first one is a free option. The second one is a paid bootcamp where I’ll be working with founders on their actual delivery and helping them make their words sing during the live pitch module.

If you have any questions on that or want to work with me feel free to reply to this email and we can chat.


India is in the midst of a potential catastrophic collapse due to Covid. Let’s help them out because we are all on this human journey together. I reached out to Aditi Parekh who I trust to get a place that we can donate too. You can read more and reach out to her directly but I’m also including a link below that she recommended.

Help here.


Final thing. Go watch this video where Kobe lays out why he doesn’t believe in failure.

Mamba Mentality forever.


Thanks for reading!

You can follow me on twitter: @robbiecrab

You can follow me on Instagram: @therobbiecrab

Want to get coaching or need consulting help around speaking, storytelling, and strategy? Robbie@robbiecrab.com

See you next week.

Robbie